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  • Rachel Plummer

Weight discrimination is a civil rights issue. Here’s what Massachusetts can do about it.

Imagine a company you’ve worked at for years suddenly fires you, and it has nothing to do with your performance. The company explains that you’ve gained weight and they don’t want you on staff. You feel ashamed, powerless.

In Massachusetts, this is completely legal. I have read stories of countless residents who have been blatantly discriminated against because of their weight in complaints that they filed through the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. Folks described harassment from supervisors and coworkers; some were driven to resign; others were passed over for jobs because of their weight.

This session, state Rep. Tram Nguyen and state Sen. Rebecca Rausch introduced a bill prohibiting body size discrimination. The act is straightforward – it adds weight and height to the list of identities (such as race, gender, etc.) already protected by anti-discrimination laws. As an advocate with the Harvard Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders, I have been fighting for its passage and hope to see lawmakers move it forward this session.

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